California History: The Hidden Genocide

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The Shasta Nation, which Norma Jean belongs to, made a treaty in 1851 with the United States government. This treaty was never ratified by Congress, but the Indian people were led to believe it was an honorable agreement. To celebrate the signing of this treaty, the Indian people were invited to a feast at Fort Jones. The meat was laced with strychnine and 4,000 Indian people died there.

First gold, then land drew the world to California. Some of the best, but many of the worst, swept into this fruitful country with their picks and their plows destroying the welcoming Indian people in their path. From 1850-1890, disease and murder reduced the indigenous people by 94%. Local bands of citizen "volunteers- " roamed the countryside killing Indian families, winning praise from their fellow citizens and payment from the state.

For $3 and a little paperwork, "citizens" could indenture any Indian for 25 years. "Citizens" received from 50 cents to $5 per Indian scalp. The state of California paid out over a million dollars for scalps.

From the early 1900's, Indian children were removed from their families and sent to boarding schools to be stripped of their culture and prepared for menial jobs at the bottom of the economic ladder. All these are acts of genocide, as defined by international law.

The re-emergence of Indian self-respect in the last 25 years has led to direct confrontations with the U.S. government and cor- porations over control of Indian lands and peoples. This has manifested itself in California through such acts as:

The Alcatraz occupation by Indians of All Tribes, 1969; the ongoing Pitt River reservation struggle; the Klamath fishing wars; the founding of D-Q University; the Toyon Wintu sawmill struggle; and the ongoing struggle for federal recognition by many California tribes.

The vast ancestral lands are now reduced to small dots on the map. The treaties have never been honored and recently the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Gasket-Orleans (G-O) Road decision that Indian people have no right to practice and exercise their indigenous religion.

The courts have been and continue to be a violent weapon against Indian people, "legally" authorizing theft of land and resources; imprisoning leaders of Indian struggle, and inflicting upon Indian people the highest arrest rate, conviction rate, severity of sentence and average length of time served of any group of people.

If you want to learn more about the history and current struggles for recognition of California's surviving Indian tribes, the Web pages sponsored by the Costanoan-Ohlone tribe are an excellent source:

Costanoan-Ohlone--One of the most informative, well-designed native web pages. The staff and the tribal people have been seeking federal recognition for many small Calfornia tribes. There are 43 linked pages, innovative features such as on-line graphs Water rights, historical documents, a virtual lodge with drum-songs, downloadable software. Lots of variety, and a great publication. Nice feature: people involved in the struggle, people who write reports, people doing production work on the Web page, are pictured, with short bios. Mohawk editor Russ Imrie created these pages, drawing on a previous 3-year gopher-stored version of text materials.

  • Map of Treaties (1851-1852) Negotiated by Califnrnia ribes--Prepared by Russ Imrie, editor of California Noso-n, Costanoan-Ohlone Web pages.

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    CREDITS: The California Treaties material was gathered by investigators working for Patrick's and Norma Jean's lawyers, and used to support both Patrick's successful change of Venue motion and in Patrick's second successful trial.

    Last Updated: Tuesday, December 19, 1995 - 12:22:41 AM